Help, they want us to register all small boats : LUSENET : Open-water rowing : One Thread

The revenuers are at it again. Here in Connecticut, and almost every other state, rowboats, rowing shells, canoes, kayaks, small sailboats without engines, and dinghies wothout motors don't need to be registered and numbered. However, someone in the Ct. government has raised bill number 5164 to remove this exemption "To require the registration of all vessels less than nineteen and one half feet in length which are not motorboats and all vessels propelled only by oars or paddles". I don't see how it can be a safety issue, numbers on the bow and a registration certificate don't make my boat safer or me a safer rower. I don't see how it can be to compensate the state and/or public for expenses. Use of the boats in question don't pollute, don't leave destructive wakes, and don't require expensive infrastructure support like big concrete launch ramps, pumpout stations, or constructed trails. Heck, we don't normally even need dredged channels! Yes, there is the occasional search and rescue expense, but that is borne by the Coast Guard and local fire and police departments. I doubt that any registration fees are going to reimburse these agencies. It seems like somebody in Hartford said 'hey, there are a lot of rowboats, canoes, kayaks, dinghies, and sailboats in Ct., and the owners probably don't have a lobby. Let's collect some spending money'. What to do?

-- Gaeton Andretta (, February 18, 2002


NJ instituded a similar law years ago. racing shells are exempted are small sailboats when engaged in "racing". I voluntarily registered my 2 dinghys. I feel it is cheap theft deterrent and will lead to recovery should one disappear (again). Registation also raises revenue though sales tax on private sales. If the extra money goes to law enforcement and search and rescue it cant hurt...............

-- Harris (, February 18, 2002.

The money will not go to law enforcement, but into the general fund where politicians and legislators will spend as they see fit. As for law enforcement investigating thefts, they don't have the manpower. The purpose of filing a report of the theft is so that if a boat ,car etc. turns up ,you hope you'll be given a call. Your choice of the word "revenuers" says it all, and correctly.

-- gunnar seigh (, February 20, 2002.

Actually there is a very strong lobby for the concerns of boaters using small unpowered craft, it is called the American Canoe Association and their web site is:

They have a large membership and are very active in the promotion of canoeing related issues in Washington. Anyone involved in rowing should consider joining the ACA to help support the issues they promote, because they almost universally apply to rowers too.

Regards, Andrew Menkart

-- Andrew Menkart (, February 20, 2002.

Dear Gaeton,

I also cannot see how human-powered boaters are going to benefit from any new restrictions or taxes. You are correct when you say that we don't place any more demands on the system than any other users of our parks or coastlines. Boaters are tax payers too! In the current political climate politicians don't dare ask for new broad-based taxes, so they apply divide and conquer tactics by inventing new reasons for taxing specific minority groups, like smokers and drinkers, saying that they place unusual and excessive demands on the system. The "sin" tax analogy is harder to apply to rowers as we are among the healthiest, most environmentally conscious and self sufficient groups one can imagine. The "user" fee approach isn't logical either as we don't need specific launch facilities. There will be no real effort made to use these registries to help us in any way, as to do so will require more effort and expenditures than anyone is willing to accept. What's more, if history is any guide, government agencies will use this new found power to make their jobs easier by targeting groups that they either don't like or understand. Even the normally benign and helpful U.S.Coast Guard is not above these tactics. Evidence, the ever tighter, and sometimes ridiculous, restrictions being placed on wooden vessels and the all out attempt in the early 1970s to ban from coastal waters (that includes many rivers too) most rowing craft, even those with a proven record of seaworthiness. Like most government employees they think that having authority automatically makes them experts. The suggestion that we join, and actively support, advocacy groups like the American Canoe Association and the Traditional Small Craft Association is a good one.



-- Andre de Bardelaben (, February 22, 2002.

Thank you to everyone for your information, help, and advice. The good new is that the bill is withdrawn for the time being. The first public hearing was theis past Tuesday, and we had a strong showing, with member from two kayaking clubs, the TSCA, the Ct. River Oar and Paddle Club, two canoe/kayak/rowing shops, and others. It seems that the bill was introduced as a result of some people's concern about little boats being a terrorist threat. Somebody had the idea that putting a number on the bow of a kayak, canoe, or rowboat would prevent its use as a terrorist weapon. We who showed up at the meeting made it clear what we thought of this idea, and many of us are still not convinced that it wasn't a grab for registration money, or possibly just a complaint from some waterfront homeowners who didn't want small boaters using the intertidal zone near their homes. Once again, thank you. Regards, Gaeton Andretta

-- Gaeton Andretta (, February 22, 2002.

I like the part about terrorist threat. My first boarding ever, by the coast guard, occured Feb. 3, on the Hudson ,north of Catskill, about 1/4 mile south of the Catskill bridge. Basil, the yellow lab, and I were rowing my Rangeley lakes boat when we were beset upon by three coastguardsmen who had suited up and lowered in a zodiac to investigate.They asked if I was heading back to the launch,which I was, and conducted the "boarding" there. The guys were very courteous and I think a little embarrassed. But I wonder what devious deeds Basil would be capable of ,were he offered a fistful of Ritz crackers.(Ask any of the Cape Cod Vikings.) Judging by responses, I think most of us see the trees for the forest.

-- gunnar seigh (, February 22, 2002.

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